EXCLUSIVE: I can now confirm that Endeavor, the boutique tenpercentery, is in the process of quietly dropping clients “across the board” — writers, directors, actors, etc. (But I’m told no layoffs of agents are involved: “We have more agents today than a year ago,” an Endeavor insider explained.) The client downsizing has been going on since March, has only now reached the point of critical mass, and should max out at -25% when it’s finished. “It’s a strategic repositioning of the firm,” a source said to me. “CAA wants to have as many clients on Earth as possible, and we don’t. That’s the difference.” I hear Endeavor’s writer clients feel especially vulnerable. “Basically, any writer not working at the moment, and even ones with small jobs,” a source told me. “It’s all part of some move to represent only ‘the best of the best’.” Others say it’s to get lean and mean in preparation for a possible guilds’ strike. Initially, I’d heard some junior reps were axed, but sources insist that’s not true. But less clients mean less agents needed and that spells less overhead, so it’s also a cost-cutting move. And the period between September to December is when agencies negotiate next year’s compensation with their reps.
Among Endeavor’s rivals, CAA has already slashed expenses and axed agents, and ICM continues to fire reps after its merger with Broder and its current brouhaha with Ed Limato. Sources tell me William Morris tried to similarly drop clients en masse a few years ago. Pounded into agents’ heads at the tenpercentery’s retreats were threats that they’d be “held accountable” if they didn’t cut at least 10% of their lists. So the agency informally divided clients up into categories: Big Earners, Mid Level, R&D and Dead Weight. Because of all the associated angst, the trimming tanked. I’m told the Morris agents decided they’d rather keep the dead weight than have to make those wrenching calls to the clients being cut. Not even management had the stomach to follow up in the end. And, in a worse case scenario, some of the Morris clients let go changed agencies only to suddenly score a hit series or movie for the new tenpercentery. Question is, will Endeavor’s Ari “Gold” Emanuel be having sleepless nights after these unkindest cuts of all?